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                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                      The Call Of Matthew (9:9-13)

INTRODUCTION

1. Who is a suitable prospect...
   a. For the kingdom of God?
   b. For becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ?

2. Who among your neighbors, friends, etc., do you think are most
   likely to receive the gospel?
   a. Those who are devout, religious, and respectable?
   b. Or those who may be ungodly, irreligious, and socially 
      unacceptable?

3. If any passage ought to give us caution against pre-judging suitable
   prospects for the gospel...
   a. It should be Mt 9:9-13
   b. In which we read of "The Call Of Matthew"

[In this passage we learn lessons by way of precept and example 
regarding discipleship and the mind of Christ that we do well to 
remember.  Let's begin by turning our attention to...]

I. MATTHEW'S CALL AT WORK

   A. MATTHEW, THE MAN...
      1. His name was also Levi - cf. Mt 9:9; Lk 5:27
      2. Mark mentions him as the son of Alphaeus - Mk 2:14
         a. Note that another apostle, James, was also named the son of
            Alphaeus - Mt 10:3
         b. This has led some to think they were half-brothers, but
            many doubt this
   
   B. MATTHEW, THE TAX COLLECTOR...
      1. His occupation was one of collecting taxes for Rome
      2. The term "publican" describes this position, filled by Jews
         contracted by the Romans to collect taxes from their brethren
      3. As such, they were highly despised and equated with sinners
         - cf. Mt 9:11; 18:17

   C. MATTHEW, THE CALLED DISCIPLE...
      1. Perhaps to the amazement of many, Jesus tells him to "Follow 
         Me" - Mt 9:9a
         a. This was a call to become His disciple - cf. Mt 4:18-22
         b. Contrary to what may have been the expectations of many,
            Jesus saw something in Matthew that made him a suitable
            prospect
      2. Matthew demonstrates that Jesus' estimation of him is not 
         unwarranted
         a. He accepts the call of Jesus:  "he arose and followed Him"
            - Mt 9:9b
         b. Just as Peter, Andrew, James and John had done earlier
      3. Of course, this same tax collector, despised by his Jewish
         brethren...
         a. Became one of the twelve apostles - Mt 10:1-4
         b. Wrote this gospel of Matthew attempting to save his own
            brethren in the flesh!

[That such a despised tax collector could be a useful disciple to Jesus
becomes apparent even more as we read next about...]

II. MATTHEW'S FEAST AT HOME

   A. THE NATURE OF THE GUESTS...
      1. Matthew threw a feast in honor of his new Master - Mt 9:10
         a. But then..."many tax collectors and sinners came"
         b. Who "sat down with Him and His disciples"
      2. As host, Matthew undoubtedly invited and permitted his ungodly
         friends to sit and mingle with the Lord and His disciples!
      -- Didn't Matthew know what social customs he was violating?  Of
         course, but he had already learned a lesson that was about to
         be taught to others
   
   B. THE CHALLENGE OF THE PHARISEES...
      1. This religious sect of the Jews are shocked - Mt 9:11
         a. The Pharisees were separatists (the name means "separated
            ones")
         b. They were strict observers of the traditions of the elders,
            especially when it came to ceremonial cleanness - Mk 7:3
      2. They wonder why Jesus would eat with tax collectors and 
         sinners (the latter likely including prostitutes)
         a. They inquire of Jesus' disciples
         b. Likely they did so standing outside, as the disciples
            themselves went in an out, for it is unlikely the Pharisees
            would dare go into such a gathering of sinners!

   C. THE RESPONSE OF THE SAVIOR...
      1. An explanation for why it is proper for Him to mingle with
         sinners - Mt 9:12-13
         a. It is the sick, not those who are well, who need the care
            of a physician
         b. So it sinners, not the righteous, who need Someone calling
            them to repentance
      2. A rebuke for what was lacking in their own lives - Mt 9:13
         a. Sacrifice without mercy means nothing, as taught in Hos 6:6
         b. Implying that their religious devotion lacked the quality
            of mercy, or they would not have so despised sinners in
            need of salvation

[In the call of Matthew followed by the feast at his house, Jesus by
precept and example taught important lessons concerning evangelism and
discipleship. To elaborate, let me share...]

III. SOME OBSERVATIONS

   A. DON'T PREJUDGE YOURSELF OR OTHERS...
      1. Don't think one is ever too wicked to become a disciple of
         Jesus
         a. Either yourself or someone else
         b. Few could surpass Paul for the sins of which he was guilty,
            yet the Lord saved him - cf. 1Ti 1:12-16
      2. Jesus sees people, not for what they are, but for what they
         can become
         a. As in the case of Simon, whom He called Cephas (Peter) 
            - cf. Jn 1:40-42
         b. Peter did not live up to his name (a rock), until several
            years of growth as a disciple
      3. We must never forget...
         a. Jesus died to save sinners
         b. No Christian is perfect, only forgiven
         c. A saint is a sinner who keeps on trying
         d. Churches grow out of weakness, not strength
            1) I.e., willing to accept weak, imperfect members, helping
               to them grow
            2) A church never grows by turning away weak people
         e. What Jesus said to the Pharisees:  "...tax collectors and
            harlots enter the kingdom of God before you" - Mt 21:31
                        
   B. DON'T CONFUSE SEPARATION WITH ISOLATION...
      1. It is true that we must be separate - cf. 2Co 6:14-17
         a. We cannot have fellowship with sin
         b. We cannot engage in the wicked deeds of others
      2. But we must not isolate ourselves - cf. 1Co 5:9-12
         a. We may withdraw from an erring brother, true
         b. But we cannot withdraw from those in the world
      3. While not of the world, we have been sent into world - Jn 17:
         15-18
         a. To be the salt of the earth, we must mingle with the meat 
            - Mt 5:13
         b. To be the light of the world, we must shine in the darkness
            - Mt 5:14-16
      -- While we must be concerned about the influence of the wrong
         kind of friends (1Co 15:33), we must be willing to reach out
         to those who are lost!

   C. DON'T FORGET THE IMPORTANCE OF MERCY...
      1. We cannot receive forgiveness if we are not merciful - Mt 6:
         14-15
      2. We will be judged by a standard with no mercy if we are not
         merciful - Jm 2:12-13
      3. Religion (sacrifice) without mercy is not pleasing to God!

CONCLUSION

1. In "The Call Of Matthew", Jesus demonstrated the transforming power
   of the gospel...
   a. Able to take a despised tax collector and turn him into a beloved
      apostle
   b. Able to appeal to social outcasts, providing love and hope for a
      new life

2. By the feast at his house, Matthew demonstrated the transforming
   power of the gospel...
   a. Turning one who likely had been motivated by greed into a 
      gracious host
   b. Making one who may have formerly reveled in the evil conduct of
      his friends, now concerned about their spiritual well-being

If upon honest reflection of this passage we see ourselves more like
the Pharisees than Jesus or his new-found disciple, may the words of
Jesus move us to repent of our self-righteousness:

   "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who
   are sick. But go and learn what this means: `I desire mercy and
   not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but
   sinners, to repentance." (Mt 9:12-13)

Are you in need of the spiritual healing provided by the Great 
Physician...?
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